Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong,
This year marks the 40th anniversary of ASEAN, which is a milestone in the history of the organization. On behalf of the Chinese Government and people, I wish to extend warm congratulations to the governments and people of ASEAN countries. I wish all ASEAN member states greater achievements in economic development and social progress in the years ahead under the guidance of the just-adopted ASEAN Charter. We are confident that a united, open and dynamic ASEAN will make greater contribution to peace, development and prosperity in our region.
Last year witnessed the opening of a new chapter in China-ASEAN relations. We celebrated the 15th anniversary of the dialogue relations, and we agreed to strengthen China and ASEAN strategic partnership and all-round cooperation and issued a Joint Statement.
Today, one year later, we are meeting here again in Singapore. Reviewing the past, we are encouraged by the progress we have made in our cooperation. Looking ahead to the future, we have every confidence that our Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity will be steadily enhanced.
Over the past year, guided by the Joint Statement issued at the Commemorative Summit Marking the 15th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations, we have made new achievements in China-ASEAN good neighborly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation:
We have maintained high-level exchange of visits, and intensified dialogue on policy, thus enhancing mutual understanding and trust. We have continued consultations on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and are resolved to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea.
We have accelerated the building of the free trade area. On the basis of implementing the Agreement on Trade in Goods and the Agreement on Trade in Services, we are actively engaged in the negotiation on investment agreement. China-ASEAN trade is expected to reach $190 billion this year and exceed $200 billion next year. Mutual investment has reached $45.4 billion in accumulative terms. China and ASEAN are now each other's fourth largest trading partners.
We have signed the China-ASEAN Maritime Transport Agreement and adopted the Framework Agreement on China-ASEAN Aviation Cooperation. We are making continued efforts to build the Pan-Asia Railway and the Greater Mekong Information Superhighway. All these have greatly facilitated bilateral exchanges and cooperation.
We are implementing the cooperation initiatives adopted at the 10th 10+1 Summit early this year and have carried out fruitful cooperation in information system in rural areas, youth exchanges, media exchanges, cultural and human resources development, environmental protection, quality inspection and food safety, avian flu prevention and control, disaster management and peace-keeping. Our cooperation in key areas such as agriculture, science and technology, education and culture has constantly grown. The Fourth China-ASEAN Expo and the Business and Investment Summit were successfully held.
We have cooperated closely and supported one another at 10+3, East Asia Summit, ARF, APEC, the UN, WTO and other regional and international organizations to promote peace, stability and development in both Asia and the world.
Both China and ASEAN are entering a new era and new stage in our respective development. I wish to reiterate that it remains a key foreign policy goal of the Chinese Government to consolidate and grow its Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity with ASEAN. In the coming year, China will work with ASEAN in the following areas to strengthen our strategic partnership and elevate our win-win relations and common development to a new height.
First, enhance political trust and policy coordination
We should maintain regular high-level exchanges, increase dialogue and contact in various areas and at different levels, and step up coordination and cooperation on major international and regional issues to increase political trust.
We should actively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and make progress in taking follow-up actions, advance practical cooperation and joint development in South China Sea and maintain stability in the area.
We should increase military exchanges and cooperation, pursue institutionalized defense cooperation, strengthen dialogue on defense policy and promote more cooperation between our militaries in non-traditional security areas. To this end, China will host an exchange program for China-ASEAN defense academics next year.
Second, upgrade business ties and cooperation
We should follow the principles of equality and mutual benefit, being results-oriented, and pursuing long-term cooperation and common development, ensure the smooth implementation of the Agreement on Trade in Goods and the Agreement on Trade in Services, and accelerate the negotiation on investment so as to reach early agreement and make full progress toward the building of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.
We should increase our road, railway, airlines and information telecommunications links to meet the demand of growing business ties. We will actively implement China-ASEAN maritime shipping agreement and the framework agreement on aviation cooperation, adopt the plan of China-ASEAN transport cooperation strategy as soon as possible and start negotiation on the China-ASEAN MOU on air transport cooperation. We will speed up the building of China-ASEAN Information Superhighway and energetically work for the construction of the Pan-Asia Railway. China is ready to provide, according to its ability, technical, human and equipment support for the initial study and construction of the non-China section of the railway. A joint expert group may be set up to carry out feasibility study for pan-Beibu Gulf economic cooperation.
To expand our cooperation in information technology and communications, China will host the third "China-ASEAN ICT Week" next year and propose putting into place a China-ASEAN information and network security emergency response cooperation framework.
China and ASEAN will soon sign the MOU on Strengthening Sanitary and Phytosanitary Cooperation. We should act accordingly and strengthen our cooperation to ensure the safety and sanitation of food, agricultural produce and other relevant products traded so as to further facilitate trade in goods in our region and better protect consumer rights and interests.
We should sign and implement the MOU on Establishing "China-ASEAN Center" at an early date, launch activities of the center in a step-by-step way, bring into full play the center's special role in promoting business, cultural and non-governmental exchanges and take solid steps to implement the Plan of Action for China-ASEAN strategic partnership and the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation.
We should have further discussions on enhancing China-ASEAN cooperation on intellectual property rights within the 10+1 framework with a view to reaching an early cooperation agreement, and China will host the China-ASEAN IPR workshop next year.
We will make continued efforts to ensure the success of the China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit to turn them into important platforms for China and ASEAN to expand exchanges and cooperation for mutual benefit and common development.
Third, carry out practical cooperation in non-traditional security fields
China is ready to enhance cooperation with ASEAN in non-traditional security fields, including drug trafficking, human trafficking, piracy, terrorism, weapon trafficking, money laundering, international economic crimes and cyber crimes. We should renew the MOU on China-ASEAN Cooperation in the Field of Non-Traditional Security Issues at an appropriate time.
As a user of the Malacca Strait, China is committed to upholding security in the strait through dialogue and cooperation. China is ready to actively participate in the relevant cooperation projects. It will sponsor the maritime investigation training program and the port country monitoring training program for the three Malacca Strait countries next year.
Major natural disasters pose a common threat to us all. To enhance the capacity for jointly preventing and managing catastrophes, China will host the China-ASEAN Seminar on Enhancing Regional Capacity for Responding to Catastrophe next year.
We should enhance our long-term cooperation on energy, environmental protection and climate change. We should enhance our cooperation on renewable energy and clean energy and in exploring new ways to ensure energy supply in line with the principle of mutual benefit. We are ready to discuss with ASEAN the formulation of the China-ASEAN strategy on environmental protection cooperation. China will establish the "China-ASEAN Environmental Protection Center" next year. We propose putting into place the China-ASEAN environment minister meeting mechanism at an appropriate time in a common endeavor to build a resource-conserving and environment-friendly East Asia.
Fourth, give strong support to the development of the ASEAN Community and integration
We firmly support ASEAN in building an "ASEAN Community" with economy, security as well as society and culture as its three pillars. China is ready to provide assistance to the ASEAN integration process as its ability permits.
China will work closely with ASEAN to launch, as soon as possible, the two projects it has undertaken under the "ASEAN integration initiative." On this basis, China is ready to actively explore the possibility of undertaking other projects under the initiative.
We will implement the initiative of training 8,000 professionals in various sectors for ASEAN in the next five years. China will continue to sponsor various programs to train 2,000 professionals for ASEAN next year.
China will continue to support ASEAN's efforts in bridging its internal gap of development, and take an active part in the ASEAN sub-regional cooperation, such as development of the Mekong River basin, Great Mekong sub-region and the BIMP-EAGA.
Fifth, expand social, cultural and people-to-people exchanges
China will continue to launch exchange projects including inviting ASEAN young people to visit China and hosting youth camps, summer camps and young entrepreneurs forum. We will make full use of the China-ASEAN Youth Cultivation Center in Guangxi to increase mutual understanding and friendship between young people of the two sides.
China will continue to strengthen sport and cultural exchanges with ASEAN and will host the China-ASEAN Cultural Industry Forum next year. We propose that the two sides formulate the China-ASEAN Cultural Industry Interaction Program. We warmly welcome ASEAN countries to participate in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and wish you every success.
To enhance China-ASEAN media cooperation is of great importance to increasing mutual understanding between our peoples, strengthening traditional friendship and expanding mutually beneficial cooperation. We are ready to sign and implement with ASEAN the MOU on Information and Media Cooperation at an early date and make plan for our work in this area. Next year, China will host the China-ASEAN Broadcasting and Television Forum and continue to provide training for ASEAN journalists.
China and ASEAN member states are each other's important tourist destinations and sources of tourists. To promote exchanges and cooperation between our tourism authorities, China will sponsor special training courses for ASEAN government tourism departments to help ASEAN learn more about China's outbound travel market.
The growth of China-ASEAN dialogue relationship in the past 16 years shows that China and ASEAN are inter-dependent and that our respective development is mutually reinforcing. China's continued economic and social development and further improvement in the lives of the 1.3 billion Chinese people will create more development opportunities for ASEAN and China's other neighbors as well as countries and people in other parts of the world. We will redouble our efforts to build even stronger relations with ASEAN.